Name: Erin Stern
Erin’s love for fitness stems from her active youth. She began racing with her sisters and her father at their home near Miami, Florida. They were playful children—running, bounding, climbing trees, seeking out competition at home. The girls were tomboys, racing their dad and practicing natural forms of athleticism.
Erin’s homegrown competitive streak was bound to overflow. She and her showhorse, Dreamy, would run through hunter jumper courses together. She would lead him by the halter, run next to him, and even leap over the obstacle beside him.
One day before her junior year of high school, her father, Ira, saw her running and bounding beside her horse and encouraged Erin to do more with her leaping ability.
“You’re already out here running next to the horse,” Ira told her. “You might as well go run at the track and do something productive.”
Heeding her father’s advice led Erin to win a collegiate scholarship to the University of Florida, where she earned Junior All-American status in the high jump. It also nearly took her to the greatest heights for amateur athletes. She cleared 5-foot-9 in college, but didn’t stop high jumping. In 2008 she cleared 5-foot-11, but missed the Olympics qualifying standard by a mere three centimeters.
“It was kind of a setback when I missed that qualifying standard,” Erin says. “I realized that, being a high jumper at 5-foot-8 and close to 140 pounds, genetically it wasn’t in the cards for me to jump 6-foot-8 like a lot of the other girls are going to.”
“I’ve always been athletic and I always lifted,” Erin says. “In college, I learned Olympic lifts and learned a lot about the body, but not so much about aesthetic lifting, so after college I started doing the aesthetic lifts.”
Although her Olympic competitive dreams faded, Erin still had a strong athletic itch. After all, she possessed a killer body with one-of-a-kind muscle tone. You know where this is going: She decided it was time to compete.
“I was looking at one of the magazines and one of my friends said, ‘Hey, you should do a figure competition! You’re in good shape, you’ve got some muscle, you might as well step on stage.’ The Arnold Classic was my pro debut in 2009. That was my fourth show, ever. It happened very, very fast.”
Erin finished in 10th place at the 2009 Arnold, then took 6th at the 2009 Olympia. That was the last time she finished outside the top three. She has won two of the last three Olympias and makes up half of the greatest rivalry in figure history, battling 2011 Figure Olympia champ and three-time Arnold Classic champ Nicole Wilkins.
“I am motivated to be better than my previous best,” she says. “I’m also motivated by the people I meet along the way. It’s just a big fitness family, and to be able to inspire and motivate others keeps me going. Ultimately, I want to be the Oprah of the fitness world, teaching people how to work out and showing them that when you have success in the gym, when you’re strong, that translates to confidence and success outside the gym.”
Erin’s Top 5 Training Songs
“Red Dress,” TV on the Radio (The Glitch Mob Remix)